France’s President Francois Hollande will visit Yerevan on April 24 to take part in official ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey, a senior French diplomat confirmed on Wednesday.
“President Francois Hollande will definitely be in Armenia [on that day,]” Jean-Francois Charpentier, the French ambassador in Yerevan, told a news conference. “On January 28 the president reaffirmed his participation and clearly presented France’s views and approaches.”
Charpentier referred to Hollande’s dinner meeting in Paris with leaders of France’s influential Armenian community. Addressing them, the French leader urged Turkey take new steps towards the “truth” behind the 1915 slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians, saying “it is time to break the taboos.”
The current and previous Turkish governments have maintained that Ottoman Armenians died in smaller numbers and not as a result of a premeditated government policy. Still, in April 2014 then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered Ankara’s first-ever condolences to the victims’ descendants.
Recalling Erdogan’s move, Hollande said on January 28 that Ankara's position “cannot stop there.” “It is time to break the taboos and for the two nations, Armenia and Turkey, to create a new beginning,” he said, according to the AFP news agency.
Hollande visited the Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan and laid a wreathe there during an official trip to Armenia in May 2014. He called on Turkey to recognize the mass killings and deportations of Armenians as genocide.